Behavior Problems

Behavior problems happen, but they don’t mean you can’t work through them. Often it’s actually quick to turn things around if you know how and understand why. Below are common questions/concerns from adopters. Although reading up on techniques is very helpful, setting up a training session to get a more thorough understanding and help is far more efficient.

How To Use
Please click the title of each question below and the answer will open.
It takes a dog some time to understand it’s okay to be crated, if you take it step by step and follow our Crate Training handout (found under NEW DOG HELP) you will work it all out.
With a shy dog, it’s best is to ignore the dog completely, that allows the dog to come up to you on their own. Once they do approach you, still play it cool and ignore them. This technique will boost the dog’s confidence and you will soon see when the dog is ready to be petted. Start with a small pet on the body, move away, dog will come for more and you slowly increase. The same goes for all new people, so you have to educate your friends on how to help your shy nervous dog. You can have new people put a treat on the floor, and then walk away and ignore the dog. No high-pitched voices/baby talk, no hands reaching for dog, both will scare the dog and make them stay in the fearful mindset.
Puppies and young dogs will do this, it’s typical puppy behavior. You have to put all things away so the dog can’t reach it which is called puppy proofing (just like baby proofing). If your dog grabs an unwanted item, remove it and say a firm NO, then give them their nylabone or other chew toy instead so they start understanding that they are allowed to chew on that. Over time as the dog matures this will subside.
It’s very common that people greet dogs with excited delight, using high-pitched voices and lots of petting. This creates an equally exited respond from the dog, who then thinks the people want that from him/her. It escalates from jumping to nipping and so on. Do not greet your dog with excitement. If your dog is excited, ignore until calmer and then you pet and greet the dog CALMLY. Instruct other people to do the same. If you pet a dog when exited you are rewarding that type behavior and then the confused dog doesn’t understand you don’t want that behavior.
It’s common that dogs think they “own” their person and feel entitled to guard them. This is not cute at all, and it definitely does not matter if it’s only a small dog. Say a firm NO and instantly put the dog on the floor. You have to make it clear it is not acceptable behavior and they don’t get to sit on your lap if they growl.
Many dogs do this, especially unsure dogs. They need a leader that will show them what to do. You need to start having your dog walk right behind you so that you are the leader and in charge of the environment. The dog is your follower and cannot make their own decisions on how to react on things. You are leading the way and you are taking care of the different situations, not the dog. This is something that is best to get help with scheduling a session with one of our trainers. It is not easy to understand by just reading about it, it has everything to do with body language, timing and understanding dog behavior, so you’d get the best results with one-on-one help from us.
It is very common for dogs to react to skateboards, etc. Usually it’s not the actual object, but the the speed and noise that goes with it. A skateboarder coming fast at them is scary and confrontational, same thing with a motorcycle, bike or other high-speed things…including runners. Move away from the fast object, place yourself between it and the dog, give some space in-between the situation and let the dog know “we are moving away from that”.
This isn’t an actual behavior problem, it’s just the simple fact the dog could not hold it or does not yet understand house training. Be aware a dog need to go to the bathroom within or about 30 min after eating. They don’t understand why you are saying NO and pointing at the spot, dogs don’t relate to things in that way. They look “guilty” because you are acting strange and being mad, so they understand you are upset but don’t understand why, pretty confusing to a dog. Take a look at our HOUSE TRAINING handout under NEW DOG HELP and you will be able to work on the house training successfully
This is guarding or territorial behavior that can be either fearful or dominant or learned behavior. When guest come, put your dog on a leash and bring them outside of the door and ask your guests to step away a little. Once you have passed your guests, have one of them put a treat on the ground and the dog can take the treat. No greetings, no talking to the dog, the guests should ignore the dog. Ask the guest to walk in your home, then you and your dog follow (you and your dog are inviting the guests together to walk in). Keep your dog on leash until he/she is relaxed, again – and the guests must ignore the dog. Once your dog is relaxed, then you can drop the leash – but leave it on your dog so you can pick it up again if needed. This exercise must be repeated many times and it is best to get help to be sure it’s done correctly.
Follow the instructions above on how to introduce guests coming to your home. If your dog is growling or barking you must disagree and say NO very firmly. You can use a shaker can to get the dog’s attention back to you, but most importantly, they need to understand growling or barking is not acceptable behavior. It’s pretty common that little dogs get a bit spoiled and they quickly think they own the house. You need to set rules so the dog understands they are not the king of the castle. Simple rules go a long way, including rules like not being allowed in certain rooms or bathroom, not allowed to beg when you eat, not allowed in your bed. A few basic rules will help your dog understand that they surely have house rules they need to obey.
Most importantly, do not play tug of war with your dog – ever. It teaches the dog to bite towards human hands. Don’t “mess” with your dog poking and using hands to play. First, they do not understand it and second, it’s easy for them get over-excited and nip. Eventually they will do it harder and harder so it will be a bite. If they nip your hand say NO or EH-EH and walk away. This way they are not getting rewarded with attention for nipping. You can give them their chew toy instead so they start understanding that hand is not for nipping, but the chew toy is allowed.
You have to practice leaving your dog alone in short portions daily, you can look at our New Dog Help and also Crate training handouts to learn exactly how to proceed. Wait outside your door and if dog starts crying, go back in and say a firm NO. Leave again and wait. Repeat, repeat. Give your dog a stuffed Kong to stay occupied with when you leave so it doesn’t become a big thing that you are leaving the home.
Encourage your dog first to come with you with a “Lets go!” If you have a harness on the dog at first, you will lift and pull a little to encourage them to move along with you. Don’t use a baby voice saying “it’s okay” because your tone of voice sounds weird to the dog so you are basically letting the dog know that something is actually strange. The best solution is to have the attitude of leading the way and the dog will start to follow and learn that it’s not scary.
Some dogs are especially sensitive to their surroundings, so when they hear any unexpected loud noises outside, they react more strongly than most dogs. Although it feels horrible to watch your dog suffer, you’ll actually help your dog the most by letting them be. Remember, when you act differently than normal, your dog reacts by believing something abnormal and awful is happening. Don’t cuddle or baby talk to your dog, doing these things only reassures the dog that her fears are justified. Instead, give your dog a safe spot to be in, like it’s crate or a favorite corner, and act as though nothing is wrong. Eventually, your dog will believe your normal behavior more than it’s own fears. If the problem persists, you can isolate your dog in a smaller, more quiet space. Also, over-the-counter calming products, thunder shirts can do wonders to help your sensitive dog. If extreme panic is displayed, contact your veterinarian to potentially get prescription medication.
Did you put on monthly flea protection? You can purchase topical flea protection in most pet stores and your vet will have other variations in pill form. If your dog is up to date with flea protection, it could be the food. Try switching to a different brand and flavor. Fish formula is usually great for the skin. If the food change doesn’t help, contact your veterinarian for further advice.

To get started on the right path, don’t let your dog sniff and have the nose to the ground constantly and “read the newspaper”. It distracts them and they don’t pay attention to you. The walk is not for the dog to be out doing its own thing, but for you to be out together. The dog need to learn to pay attention to you as the leader and take your direction. Encourage your dog to come with you, but stay right behind you, make turns, walk around trees or cars, stop and turn. By doing things like that you keep your dog focused on you and they will learn to look at you for direction.

If your dog is pulling and maybe even lunging and barking at people or dogs, it is best to resolve the problem by setting up a session with one of our trainers. It is not easy to resolve by just reading about it, it has to do with body language, understand why the dog is doing this, and to practice a new way of walking. You will get the best results with one-on-one help from us.